Eitan Neishlos: The next generation of Jewish leadership 

“It’s not just about the memories of the past but the hope of the future", says Neishlos.

 EITAN NEISHLOS: Disrupting the way we approach Holocaust and Israel education (photo credit: Neishlos Foundation)
EITAN NEISHLOS: Disrupting the way we approach Holocaust and Israel education
(photo credit: Neishlos Foundation)

Never Forget – two words that invoke a somber sense of mourning for millions of Jews around the world, and countless others, as Israel and the rest of the world commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day. For visionary philanthropist and business entrepreneur Eitan Neishlos, chairman and founder of the Neishlos Foundation, “It’s not just about the memories of the past but the hope of the future.” 

Just over a year ago, he established the Neishlos Foundation with the goal of building a platform for smart philanthropic investing to create sustainable social change, investing in human capital, and turning education into power.

In true entrepreneurial fashion, Neishlos is disrupting the way we approach Holocaust and Israel education, building bridges and investing in the future generation to ensure a model of coexistence and collaboration for the betterment of the global community. As founder and president of Neishlos Capital, a leader in impact investing with a focus on social consciousness, Neishlos approaches his philanthropic endeavors with the same lens. 

Eitan Neishlos at Auschwitz (Credit: Neishlos Foundation)Eitan Neishlos at Auschwitz (Credit: Neishlos Foundation)

“I deal with foundation as I would with an investment,” Neishlos explains. “We seed-funded [the foundation]. It’s been smart philanthropy, and we put money into projects that help the beneficiary to raise money, have a total impact campaign, or provide hard education. These are the fundamentals.”

Focusing its efforts under the umbrella of the Abraham Accords, the foundation transcends the political landscape, forging sustainable bridges between Israel and the Gulf region through its investment in “hard education,” a unique approach that Neishlos views as a sustainable educational model to transform the human experience into learning opportunities.

Neishlos, whose grandmother survived the Holocaust, discovered a shoe box containing her accounts of what she experienced during the Holocaust, which would shape Neishlos’s life thereafter. His grandmother only survived due to the kindness of the Chodosevitch family, who were later murdered by the Nazis for helping to protect Jewish children.

TAMARA ZISERMAN, Eitan’s grandmother, age 10. (Credit: Neishlos Foundation)TAMARA ZISERMAN, Eitan’s grandmother, age 10. (Credit: Neishlos Foundation)

It is that emotional understanding that Neishlos is working to turn into educational power, to ensure that the next generation will stand up to discrimination and protect against it. In just a year, the Neishlos Foundation has made tremendous progress to actualize this vision.

The Abraham Accords created an opportunity for the Neishlos Foundation to put its ethos into action. Serving as the March of the Living ambassador in the Gulf states, Neishlos has established an unprecedented movement for Holocaust awareness in the Arab world, with gratitude and appreciation to the United Arab Emirates and Israel for creating an environment to allow the foundation’s work to flourish in promoting their shared values of coexistence.

As an investor, Neishlos looks at the foundation’s time line of events as a key indicator that the Neishlos Foundation could be his next “unicorn.” In March 2022, Neishlos kicked off the foundation’s international presence at a special reception at the House of Lords in London, where he was presented with the symbolic torch of memory by Eve Kugler, a Holocaust survivor and activist.

A month later, Neishlos lit the torch of remembrance in Auschwitz, together with the first-ever Emirati delegate, H.E. Ahmed Obaid al-Mansoori, founder of the first Holocaust Memorial Gallery in the Arab world. “I walked in [to Auschwitz] with a friend but walked out with a brother. We demonstrated to the world this unbreakable bond,” Neishlos explains. 

A few months later, the Neishlos Foundation, together with al-Mansoori’s Crossroads of Civilizations Museum in Dubai and the March of the Living, hosted the first-ever Kristallnacht commemoration ceremony in the Arab world. With the event space filled to capacity, Neishlos sent a message to the world of how sharing our struggles can transform the bonds between the Jewish and Arab communities.

(Credit: Neishlos Foundation)(Credit: Neishlos Foundation)

Recently, the leadership of the UAE announced plans to officially introduce Holocaust education into their school curriculum, a critical outcome shared by the foundation’s mission to build an educational platform for Holocaust studies, further bolstering Neishlos’s belief in the power of hard education.

Throughout it all, Neishlos brought with him his grandmother’s shoe box, the modest symbol that has been Neishlos’s inspiration to create a global movement. 

Just as his grandmother’s shoe box told her own story, the Neishlos Foundation, together with the International March of the Living and Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, has embarked on a momentous journey to restore over 8,000 shoes belonging to children who had perished in the Holocaust, as part of its Soul to Sole campaign. 

Each shoe represents a life, a story that was cut short. Through the restoration efforts, the third generation can conceptualize and understand the magnitude of these lives that were lost. With a dwindling number of survivors left to tell their story firsthand, Soul to Sole represents our collective duty, as the generations following continue to tell this story, to ensure that these accounts do not fade away with the passage of time. The foundation has already reached its two-year goal to raise the capital for the restoration efforts. But Neishlos does not plan to stop there. 

“Just because we’ve raised [the seed] money does not mean that is where we stop,” Neishlos states. “My vision is for every child, on their bar or bat mitzvah, to remember one of the children who perished in the Holocaust, tell their stories, and continue to help restore the shoes of the [children’s] parents who were killed.”

While much of the Neishlos Foundation’s work is focused on bringing Holocaust education to the world, it also understands the importance of looking inward at its own community. Through Neishlos’s production company 18 Reflections, and in partnership with radio station Galgalatz and Zikaron Basalon, a social initiative that brings grassroots Holocaust memorial events to the homes of millions of young Jews around the world, the Neishlos Foundation has helped produce an original music album to share the emotional experiences of the Holocaust through moving and intimate songs.

Neishlos established 18 Reflections as a “production company with a conscience,” creating historical, political and reality projects focused on real-life events, inspirational storytelling, and a deep love of the entertainment medium.

Through collaboration with Israel’s leading music producers, singers and songwriters, as well as Holocaust survivors, their children and historians, The Third Soundtrack will pull at the heartstrings of millions. The album, which featured 14 songs at this year’s Zikaron Basalon programs, is available on all major streaming platforms. 

“There is no more beautiful way to connect to people than through music. It is so relatable and inspirational,” Neishlos says. Through music, The Third Soundtrack permeates the bonds between generations and provides an emotional message of perseverance and inspiration that connects us all. 

For Neishlos, the message of his foundation can be summarized by a line on the album’s track “Courage to Love”: “I am a mosaic of infinite souls, but now I am at home asking for the courage to love.”

From humble beginnings, the Neishlos Foundation has made huge waves in changing the way we will connect with each other, through the power of education and innovation. It is not just about preserving the memories of the past but investing in the hope of the future. It is this investment that sets the foundation apart, capitalizing on trends in globalization, technology and the normalization of Arab-Israeli relations to create more localized accessibility to information, interconnectivity and mutual understanding.

For Neishlos, the foundation’s accomplishments in such a short period of time are proof of the possibilities that lie ahead, opening up the door for more dreamers, partners, visionaries and investors to join in this movement for a more cohesive and sustainable future together.

This article was written in cooperation with the Neishlos Foundation.